Before You Buy – The Real Differences Between a Keyboard and a Piano

Before You Buy – The Real Differences Between a Keyboard and a Piano

Thinking of buying a piano to learn to play? 

With just a few searches, you might already be stumped at what equipment to buy. Should you purchase an acoustic piano? What about a keyboard? Or a digital piano? What’s the difference? Where should you begin?

As a piano dealer, this is one of the most common questions we receive. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you start looking at prices. You can easily find a keyboard at your local big box store for very little money. And acoustic pianos – they’re giving them away on Craigslist. 

What’s the difference? And what should you choose? 

One of the most obvious differences is size. Acoustic pianos take up space inside your home. Keyboards are small, portable, and can be tucked away when not in use. That can be a big bonus for a family without a lot of space. But that’s also where a lot of people go wrong. 

Keyboards aren’t necessarily equal to pianos. They can be smaller in size, which equates to fewer keys. A full size piano has 88 keys. A beginner might not use them all, but with practice and growth, you’ll quickly stretch and need a fuller range. Keyboards may typically be 61 to 76 keys, and often aren’t weighted like a piano’s keys. That means the skills aren’t transferable. When you learn on a keyboard, it’ll seem like a new instrument when you move to an acoustic piano. Your fingers simply won’t know what to do. 

Pianos also have more voice and depth in the way they play. Imagine wanting to play a familiar tune, yet it sounds tinny, off somehow. People rarely choose to play when they can’t get the sound they’re looking for. That comes from a high quality instrument. 

Keyboards also come with their own way of playing. They may teach you to play chords with the left hand, using the electronics to keep the beat, Use a button to change the tempo, create a beat, and have the keys do the work. 

Also, keep in mind there is a difference between a keyboard and a digital piano. A digital piano offers you everything an acoustic piano does, while a keyboard focuses more on making music at the touch of a button.

To be an accomplished musician, and to truly understand the art of creating music with a piano, it’s important to start with the right tool. 

We can help educate you on understanding today’s pianos, and help you make the right choice for your needs. 

What Can Be Fixed Easily After Buying a Used Piano?

What Can Be Fixed Easily After Buying a Used Piano?

What started out as a good deal can suddenly turn into a headache. You wanted a piano for your child to learn to play on, and all you got were problems. 

We hear that story a lot. 

When you start the process of buying a used piano, you might not understand what can be easily fixed, and what is a much larger endeavor. We’re here to help. 

Piano parts that can be easily fixed:

Piano body – dings, scratches, and other blemishes can be filled. You can also paint or stand the piano body with a bit of effort. Keep in mind that body damage is often a signal of neglect, which means further damage might exist on the inside. 

Keys – if chips or other blemishes occur on the ivory or black keys, they can be repaired easily. If a piano is old enough where the keys are still made from ivory, ivory can no longer be used in commercial applications. 

Strings – if a string is broken or missing, it can be replaced. Keep in mind that new strings won’t match the tonal quality of existing strings, meaning you might hear it in the way you play. 

Hammer felt – layers of felt can deteriorate over time. Smoothing out hammer felt can give you more years of playing. 

Soundboard – soundboards are created from several different layers of wood. Over time, these can crack under pressure or from varying temperature variations. A cracked soundboard can also detach from the ribs, which produces a buzzing sound as you play. Depending on the severity of the crack and how many other parts it impacts, it can be replaced easier than other parts within a piano. 

Piano parts more difficult to replace:

Pinblock – the pinblock provides the pins in which the strings are attached. Once this fails, it requires a complete rebuild. 

Hammers – while hammer felts can be replaced without extensive repair, the hammers themselves are a more expensive endeavor. If they are broken or have worn through the wood, it might be a complete restoration. 

Bridges – the strings lay across the bridges and resonate sound through the soundboard. Without these bridges, the piano wouldn’t function. It’s also a difficult repair that requires extensive time and expense to get it right. 

Buying a used piano? Before you take it home, make sure you know its playability. Some things are easy to fix. Some are more difficult, and costly. We can help you find the right used piano that will give you years of playing. How can we help you? 

Is It Okay To Buy a Used Piano?

Is It Okay To Buy a Used Piano?

For many hobbyists, the thought of playing the piano can be exciting. It can fulfill a childhood dream of making music. It can be a healthy pursuit as you age. 

But if you’re intimidated by new piano prices, you might have turned to used pianos. Are they worth it? What should you know before you buy a used piano?

First, understand there are risks when buying anything used. If you’re purchasing from an individual based on a Craigslist ad, you could wind up with a piano with lots of problems. It’ll take a lot of money bringing it back up to working quality, and that can defeat the purpose of trying to get a “good deal.”

Buying a used piano doesn’t have to be scary. You can find great used pianos that will give you years of enjoyment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you shop. 

The lifespan of an acoustic piano

The average acoustic piano is designed to be playable for about 60 years. That means a piano sitting in the house of your grandmother since she was a little girl might have reached its peak. There are thousands of working parts inside, and any one of them can wear down or break over time. This is where it pays to know a piano’s backstory – was it well cared for, tuned regularly, and repaired and restored as needed? 

Tuning is important

Often, pianos are left in a room forgotten as a family grows, interests change, and time marches on. Even if a piano isn’t used, it still needs regular maintenance to keep it operating well. Weather changes, climate and humidity changes, and other effects from normal living can all impact the different parts of a piano. Piano strings can pull or stretch even if you don’t play it regularly. Rust can form. Wood can warp and wear out. Keys stick, and the action can cause further damage. All of this is caught by regular tuning and maintenance. Without it, a piano can deteriorate quickly. 

Not all brands are equal

Ford. Mercedes. Walmart. Gucci. One word can evoke different thoughts and impressions. It works with pianos too. Because pianos were once all the rage, a lot of manufacturers jumped in and tried to make a buck. Cheap imitations may have seemed like a good deal, but people quickly found out these pianos weren’t much better than toys. That also means they won’t hold their value over time, nor will they be quality instruments for you to practice on and enjoy as you learn to play. Stick with reputable pianos – this is where we can help you find a piano that will stand the test of time. 

Moving a piano can be expensive

Sure, you can take the piano stored in a friend’s neighbor’s basement. All you have to do is move it. That’s where the real headache begins. A professional mover ensures the piano stays safe and the movers avoid risk. Pianos are heavy, bulky items that can’t be moved as easily as a sofa or table.  Your friend’s neighbor might try and help you wedge it up the stairs and around corners. We ensure your used piano arrives safely in your home, a quality instrument ready for you to play. 

4 Things To Compare When Buying A New Piano

4 Things To Compare When Buying A New Piano

For many purchases we make in life, we spend time doing a fair amount of research before making our decisions. Of course, a three-dollar item is easier to decide on than a three-hundred-dollar item. The more we’ll have invested means more time thinking about the outcome. 

From the moment you start looking at pianos, you know they’re different. You can search online and find free pianos on Craigslist. You can also find resources for one-of-a-kind pianos that will run in the millions of dollars.

Why the difference? How do you know if you’re getting a good piano? How do you trust your decision? 

Before you make your final selection, there are a few things to compare before buying a new piano. 

Sound

A piano is a piano, right? If you’ve ever sat down and played one, you know that isn’t true. If you play three different pianos, you’ll likely hear three very different sounds. A lot goes into sound creation: materials used, construction, and placement of the piano. It also makes a difference in the way you play. If you don’t “feel” the sound a piano makes, it might not be an enjoyable experience. Test several and learn the difference. You’ll be amazed at what you hear. 

Feel

You can tell a real piano from a toy. They feel different. The keys are weighted to allow you to control the keys as you play correctly. Without learning to play with a properly functioning keyboard, you won’t be able to transfer your skills from one piano to another. Sit down and touch the keys – feel the way they move. You can tell the difference. 

Looks

While you should always buy a piano based on the way it plays, looks can be important in determining which is the best instrument for you. Do you like the finish? The size? The color? You should also take a peek inside the kid and ensure everything looks clean and well cared for, especially if you’re buying used. Even if you have never played before, a quick peek inside can alert you to potential problems before you buy. 

Warranty

What happens if you get your piano home and there’s a problem? If you buy from a dealer, you may have a warranty to cover certain faults. If you buy from an individual, you’ll probably take it as-is, and be on your own to correct whatever potential problems you have. 

Buying a piano can be a major purchase. Rather than having buyer’s remorse as soon as you get home, spend a few minutes with these four comparisons to ensure you select the right piano for your needs. 

Weighted Keys vs Unweighted Keys – What Does That Mean?

Weighted Keys vs Unweighted Keys – What Does That Mean?

A piano is a piano, right? 

Think again. 

While that might have been true years ago with acoustic pianos, with the onset of digital and electronic keyboards, that’s no longer true. 

Those keyboards you can pick up cheaply from your local big box store? They might look good on display. But once you sit down and try to play them, they might hold you back from learning. 

One of the biggest differences is the way the keys work. Are you working with weighted keys or unweighted keys? What’s the difference? 

Let’s start with a traditional acoustic piano. If you’ve ever sat down and pushed the keys, you might have felt a little resistance. That’s known as “weight”. The keys are weighted for spring action, to be sensitive to the way you touch and play them. 

If you want to play a traditional piano – vertical or grand – knowing how to play weighted keys will be a distinct advantage. 

When you move to the digital and electronic niche, you’ll find that keyboards typically come with unweighted keys, and digital pianos have weighted keys. 

The difference usually comes with cost. Less expensive models won’t create the weighted feeling. They don’t do what’s necessary to mirror the experience of an acoustic piano. 

The touch sensitivity is subtle. However, having a weighted keyboard allows you to practice and build up finger strength as you play. 

Before you invest in a piano or keyboard, as yourself one question: What is your ultimate goal? 

If you hope to transfer your skills to learn piano in many different ways, starting with a weighted keyboard will help you in the long run. It will give you the skills necessary to move freely from one instrument to another, without having to retrain for a new feeling. 

What It Takes To Build A Piano

What It Takes To Build A Piano

Take a look around you. What does it take to make all of the things you use on a regular basis?

Your computer is made from plastics, composites, semiconductors, and metals. 

Your coffee pot is made from plastic, metal, and glass. 

Many things are sent through an assembly line, put together quickly and shipped from the factory and into your home. 

But what about a piano? What does it take to build a piano? 

Modern pianos use a variety of materials, including high quality wood, metal, steel wire, and molten iron. 

Wood is used in crafting the rim and creating the outer case, as well as many internal parts. Metal is used to develop the cast iron plate, while molten iron is used for the casting process. 

Of course, there is a difference between the creation of a one-of-a-kind Steinway, and lower-end, budget-friendly pianos. But in general, all pianos take time to move from beginning to completion. 

The rim is one of the most critical processes, made of wood to give it its strength. You’ll find different manufacturers prefer different species of wood, with spruce and maple varieties topping the list because of their tonal properties. It’s also up to the species to create a dense and hard structure for building the rest of the piano around. Because the rim is curved and smoothed into place, wood is the best choice. 

For a grand piano, it requires construction of both an inner and outer rim. Layers of wood are pressed together, giving it its unique shape. The inner edge also contains things such as the pinblock, cross block, and braces that support the soundboard. These are molded, sanded, lacquered, before being joined together. 

The structural components are created and applied to the piano. The pinblock and cast iron plate generate the framework for supporting the tension of the strings. This isn’t an easy process. Engineers use a variety of raw materials to complete molds before final construction. It takes detailed work to incorporate each part into the final product, drilling holes, placing pins, and tying it all together. 

The soundboard is all an essential component. Without it, you wouldn’t have a piano’s classic sound. While a grand piano has a horizontally placed soundboard, an upright stores the soundboard vertically behind the strings and frame. It’s important for a soundboard to move through production correctly to achieve a set moisture content to be able to give support to the structure, before being curved and installed into place. 

The piano keys of today are made from a durable ivory-like plastic – ivory is no longer installed, and is illegal to sell. You may hear them referred to as “ebony and ivory”, but both are dyed and created from plastic. 

The piano strings are steel wire, strung at varying lengths and diameters to produce different tonal qualities for all 88 keys. 

Finally, the keys are laid into place on a keyboard that makes the instrument playable. This keyboard is a lightweight wood designed to hold all 88 keys snugly into place, while protecting them and making them playable for years to come. 

Want to know more about the differences between brands? Want to determine which brand will suit your needs? Stop by today, and we’ll help you find the right piano for your family. 

Ask These Questions Before Buying A New Piano

Ask These Questions Before Buying A New Piano

Have you created your New Year’s resolutions and checked them twice? Are you looking for a new hobby, one you can work at for life? Look no further than taking up the piano. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can bring into your life. 

But before you take your first lesson or buy new sheet music, you’ll have to buy a new piano first. 

Where do you start? Ask these questions first. 

What’s your budget?

While you might start out with a specific dollar figure in mind, stop by and talk with one of our associates to learn more about pianos first. Talk about your expectations, who will be playing, and what your goals are. We can show you how to get the best value for your money. Then with several options in mind, you can select the right instrument to fit with your financial expectations. It’s a better way of making a purchase you can live with for years to come. 

What do you want from your piano?

There are different types of pianos that can offer you the ability to do many different things. Do you lack space in your home? An upright might be the perfect choice. Have you always dreamed of putting a grand piano on display? Or maybe you’re looking for digital technology to connect up with your computer? If you’ve identified your needs before you talk with one of our associates, we’ll have a better idea of showing you your best options. 

Does brand matter? 

There are many different brands and manufacturers in the piano industry. While many have heard of Steinway, there are many other brands that are perfect for the home environment. What’s the difference? We’re happy to explain the philosophy of each major brand we sell, and show you how it applies to the general quality and longevity of the piano. 

What about warranties?

If you buy off Craigslist, what you see is what you get. But when you shop with a dealer, you’ll have protection against many situations that may occur in the future. Many piano brands are built with manual processes. While love and care are built into each one, sometimes things can go wrong. Isn’t it nice knowing you have a warranty in place to protect you? 

How should I care for the piano? 

If you search the internet, you’ll find all kinds of advice on properly caring for your piano. Use wax – don’t use wax. Use furniture polish – stay away. Who do you trust? That’s where a reputable piano dealer can be your best friend. Ask how they recommend caring for the finish, when to tune it, and how to preserve its looks for years to come. You won’t have to go searching the internet for clues. We’ll give you everything you need. 

4 Reasons A Piano Showroom Is The Best Place To Buy A Piano

4 Reasons A Piano Showroom Is The Best Place To Buy A Piano

Would you ever login to a website, fall in love with a house, and hit the buy button a few minutes after seeing it? How about a car, would you buy one without shopping around? 

With the biggest purchases in our lives, we understand it takes time to learn all about it, and invest the time to discover the right choice for our lifestyles. 

Depending on what you’re purchasing, the time invested in research may go down. You’ll spend more time finding the right contractor to remodel your kitchen than you would buying a toaster. 

Now let’s talk about buying a piano. A piano is a relatively large purchase. It’s also something you can bring into your home and have around for decades. Purchase the right one, and it can be a family heirloom you pass down generation after generation. 

Why should your purchase involve consulting with a piano showroom? What makes a piano dealer better than finding one online? 

Look and compare

Some things are easy to buy online. That toaster, for example, is something you know and understand. Reading about the features and comparing the costs are all you need to make an informed decision. But choosing a piano is an entirely different experience. By coming into a piano showroom, you can compare several makes and models to hear the differences. You can learn about specific sizes and the impact it has on sound. You can compare appearances and make the best selection for your decor. 

Hear the differences

A piano is a unique instrument, each make and model made in entirely different ways. Some pianos are still handbuilt from the ground up, taking many months to go through the process. You can hear the difference when you play two or more side by side. Whether you’re buying a piano to start a new hobby, or want to give your child the gift of music, it’s important to play on a high quality instrument that sounds good to the ear. Imagine playing a piano that’s way out of tune – would that motivate you to stick with your practice schedule? 

Gain the experience of a professional

When you visit a piano showroom, you’ll be speaking with people that are passionate about playing the piano. They’ll have years of experience in both playing and selling pianos. You’ll be able to get answers to every question you have, and maybe even some questions you didn’t think to ask. Then can guide you to making the right choice for your home, and cut down on buyer’s remorse. They’ll ensure you love the piano you choose, and are excited about having it delivered to your home. 

New or used

Did you know piano showrooms will sell both new and used pianos? These aren’t the used pianos you’ll find on Craigslist, the ones being stored in the basement for years until someone cleans out the home. These are high quality instruments that have many years left of life, and that offer you a chance of getting a higher quality instrument at a lower price. Whether you prefer new or used, or simply want to compare and learn the differences, a piano showroom is the perfect place to do it. 

We want you to be happy with your final purchase. Whether you have specifics in mind, or are still weighing your options, stop by our piano showroom today and find the perfect piano for your needs. 

What To Do After You Buy a New Piano

What To Do After You Buy a New Piano

It usually starts with an inkling of wanting something new in your life. A new hobby is just what you need. You’ve always wanted to play the piano – why not put that at the top of this year’s goals?

So you start doing your research and find the perfect piano for your needs. No what?

How can you ensure you’ll use your new instrument long after the purchase? What should you do after you buy a new piano and bring it into your home?

Step one: Location

This may seem obvious, you might even have a place picked out. But we would like to offer a little advice before you make this new spot your piano’s home. 

Pianos are highly sensitive instruments. They can last a lifetime – generations even – if you take proper care of it. That means moving it away from drafts, vents, and registers. A piano can’t take the constant flow of heat and cold, changing rapidly during the day. Nor can it take direct sunlight streaming in. 

Step two: Start establishing your routine

When you first bring your piano home, you’re excited about the prospect of playing. But as life resumes, and you’re hit by all that life brings, you can put your goals to learn to play on hold. Establish your routine quickly to ensure you stick with it. 

That includes doing two things. First, establish a practice pattern. This doesn’t mean staying rigid with a 30 minute per day playing schedule. What it does mean is to establish a time each day when you can sit down and play and enjoy what you’re doing. Some days may be ten minutes, other days may be longer. It’s important to enjoy the process rather than feel like you’re stuck to a routine. 

Second, find ways to improve what you do. Take one on one lessons to perfect your playing. Take group lessons to learn from others. Sign up for online learning by playing games or using a software program. Be creative with this process to hold your attention throughout the year. 

Step three: Set goals

Like everything you do in life, you stay more focused on your goals if you have something to shoot for. 

Is there a favorite song you hope to play? Your teacher can help you stay on track to play it. 

Want to show off your talents at a holiday show? Set your intentions now and work towards preparing the right music. 

Playing the piano is something you can do at all ages, all abilities, and enjoy for a variety of reasons. When you establish your “why”, it gives you reasons to move forward with your practice each day. 

And that’s the best way to stay focused on the end result. 

It all starts when you buy a new piano. Will this be your year? 

Going Piano Shopping? Keep These Tips In Mind

Going Piano Shopping? Keep These Tips In Mind

You’ve decided to go piano shopping. You’re ready to bring music into your home. 

It’s important to take the right steps in the piano buying process to ensure you get a high quality instrument that will last for years to come. 

Your first step is to find a piano showroom that will provide you with an opportunity to learn all about the piano as an instrument. A knowledgeable sales associate can educate you on the differences between brands, sizes, and models. They’ll also be able to answer all of your questions as you move forward. 

Still, there are some things you should pay attention to as you narrow down your choices. 

Sound

Not all pianos sound the same. A piano will even sound different to individuals, depending on their preferences or tone. Some offer a rich tone. Others may be vibrant and lively. Some are built to sound beautiful in a large auditorium, while others will have a stronger voice in a smaller room in your home. By coming into a piano showroom, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a variety of pianos, and be able to pick the one that suits your tastes. 

Keys

While there are many parts on a piano that are considered crucial, arguably the keys would be at the top of the list. To be a great piano player, you learn by touching the keys. If you invest in an inexpensive electronic keyboard, for example, you’ll find they have cheap plastic keys that aren’t properly weighted. You’ll never be able to play by touch if you don’t learn with the proper tools. You should also pay attention to the way every key moves. Does a key stick? Is it cracked? Does it produce sound?

Warranty

A piano isn’t a static piece of furniture you place in a room and forget it’s there. With thousands of parts, there’s a lot that can go wrong. If you choose to work with a reputable dealer, you’ll have the added protection of having a warranty in place, that can protect you from any problems a piano may have encountered during the manufacturing process. Look for a dealer that stands behind their work. 

Play it first

This will be an instrument you bring into your home and play for many years to come. Don’t just look at the finish and admire the setup. Instead, take the time to sit down and play it. Without playing it, you won’t be able to feel it. Don’t be nervous about playing in front of people. You can always ask to sit down by yourself for a few moments to compare your final selections. A reputable dealer understands your desire to be happy with your purchase. They’ll give you time to make an informed decision, and help you be satisfied with your purchase.